True or False? A Bite from a Tick Infected with the Powassan Virus may Cause Death.

Not all ticks carry viruses and not all people bitten by a tick will get sick. A tick needs to be attached for a certain length of time before it can transfer disease. This time interval is not known for the Powassan Virus, but it is likely much shorter than the time needed for other tick-borne disease agents.

Powassan virus is transmitted by the deer tick. The virus can cause inflammation in the brain, which leads to permanent disability and some cases can be fatal. For those who are inflicted with the Powassan Virus, the statistics are grim: 10 percent die and 50 percent suffer from some form of neurological disability. As of today, there is no real treatment for the virus.

Symptoms of the virus may include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Memory Loss
  • Loss of coordination
  • Speech difficulties
  • Seizures

You can reduce your risk of being infected with POW virus by using tick repellents, wearing long sleeves and pants, avoiding bushy and wooded areas, and doing thorough tick checks after spending time outdoors.

  • Walk in the center of trails
  • Find and remove ticks from your body
  • Avoid tick habitat such as densely wooded areas
  • Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET
  • Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors
  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter
  • Apply pesticides outdoors to control ticks